Forgotten Teams of New York: Grant City Generals
Stories & Research by Will Sabel Courtney
Design & Illustration by Juan Pilar
Staten Island; 1903-1978 One of the longest-lived street hockey teams in New York City history, the Grant City Generals date back to 1864, when it was created as a cricket team during the flurry of Ulysses S. Grant fever that saw the neighborhood named after him. Unfortunately, while General Grant’s popularity proved enduring in the area, cricket never caught on, so the team spent the next several decades rotating through various sports before finally becoming a street hockey team at the turn of the 20th Century.
The team was known throughout the New York City region for the unflappability and ruggedness of its players, who would play in any weather or conditions. In the event a competitor refused to play for any reason, the Generals would swarm the team’s home rink and scream racial and religious epithets at them for the entire time originally allotted for the game—an unusual strategy, as most of the other teams in the Generals’ league, like the Generals themselves, were comprised of Roman Catholic Italian-Americans.
The Generals, however, were also known to never turn down an invitation to play against anyone, no matter the odds—or the sport. Notable instances of this include their 1952 street hockey game against the Gambino crime family, during which seventeen people died, and their seven-inning stand against the 1964 New York Yankees, in which the Generals lost 89-2 at Yankee Stadium.
The entire team was killed in 1978 when the field was destroyed during a heated battle between Ultron and the Avengers.